Hey Mama, You Could Be Doing Better

 

mom self improvement

Once upon a time….

I really had sh*t together.

I smile fondly when I think about that time.  

I had one child, and he was out of the newborn stage.

He was about two, and though I would never go so far as to say parenting him was EASY, or that it was all smooth sailing, it was easy ENOUGH and smooth ENOUGH, that I got sh*t DONE.

I meal planned. Our house was clean, organized, and smoothly run. My boy and I spent endless hours learning things together…ya’ll, I’m talking I actually sat down at the beginning of each month, planned out a sweet little “currriculum” for him, with daily activities and things to learn, replete with books and adventures that paired nicely with the months theme, and we stuck to ALL OF IT.  I was consistent. I trained for and ran a half marathon during that time.  I got it DONE.

Then I had my second son, and I found it really REALLY difficult to maintain that. Things like consistency, organization, and heck, basic cleanliness went out the window. I wallowed in frustration over this for a few weeks, and then, to preserve my own sanity, made a conscious decision to “let it go.”  

“Give yourself some grace.” “You are still in the newborn phase…no one expects much of you right now.” “Just survive.” “Cherish this time.”  

That is all so true, and so healthy, and there is absolutely a time for that.  

I stayed in that place for the entire first year of my second son’s life. In the “I’m still in the newborn phase, giving myself some grace, and you should give me grace, too” place.  And then…at the end of that year…found out I was pregnant again.

And so it continued, for another year.

Then, just the other day, I was sadly, pathetically, horrifically late getting somewhere I was supposed to be.  

I told myself, “You know what? It’s fine. Give yourself some grace. You are in the newborn phase. People don’t expect punctuality.”

You guys.  

My third born son is now TWO. TWO!

I am NOT in the “newborn phase,” and haven’t been for some time, now, but I still operate as though I am.  

I can do better.  

There is no shortage of articles and blog posts floating around, reassuring moms that they are doing great. That they are enough. Doing just fine. 

I’m not knocking those articles. I wrote one.

There’s no shortage of fellow moms reassuring one another, “You’re great. You are enough.  You’re doing just fine!”

I’m not knocking those friends, or those sentiments. I am one of those friends, and I say all those same things.  

Sometimes us moms are just way too hard on ourselves.

But what about when we aren’t being hard ENOUGH?

Though it’s true that being a mother is excruciatingly difficult, and beautiful, and honorable, and all of those things…just because you ARE a mother does NOT actually guarantee that you are doing a great or even fine job.  

What if you aren’t?

The other day, I was feeling really down on my mothering. Discouraged with myself, my kids, the way we do things, their behavior, my temper, the lack of quality time I’m spending with them, the things I need to be working with them on, that I’m not…the list goes on and on. I thought, “I’m not doing a good job at this.” I need some mom self improvement. 

I was alone in my own thoughts when I said this, but had I voiced that out loud, to a group of friends, my husband, or my mom, one of them inevitably would have said, “Yes you are! You’re doing great. Don’t be so hard on yourself!”

They would be wrong though.

The truth of the matter is, I COULD be doing better. I SHOULD be doing better. There are BAD HABITS I’ve allowed us to fall into, that aren’t the very best thing for any of us.  

I CAN DO BETTER.

I can …put my phone down. Away. In a drawer. Then the phone, when and if it rings, can be an annoying distraction from my kids, instead of my kids becoming an annoying distraction from my Precious Phone Time.

I can…be more consistent with my discipline. My children’s “irritating” behavior is really nothing more than a direct reflection of my parenting.  

I can…read a parenting book! What?!? I’m a book worm.  I’ve devoured at least 15 beach reads since summer began. Meanwhile, I don’t have a clue what the eff to do about the fact that my children fight with each other from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. There’s probably a book for that!

I can…be on time. I just can.  

This is not an article meant to perpetuate Mom Guilt, or Mom Shaming, or Self-Hatred. It’s not meant to make you feel down on yourself, or plant a seed in your head that perfection is the goal every Good Mom should be aiming for, and you, Bad Mom, are falling woefully short.  

I’m just posing the question, to myself, as well as to you, what areas of your mothering could you stand to improve in, and how can you go about doing that? What bad habits and patterns have you fallen into that you need to break? What are some NEW habits and patterns you could create, that would allow you to be the best mom you can be for your children?

There is a time and a place for encouragement and extending grace. There is also a time and place to call it what it is, and say, “I suck at this, and I can do better.” You don’t have to fear that realization, and it doesn’t have to heap guilt and shame upon your head.  

The fact of the matter is…

You MAY have some laziness you need to deal with (I do)

You MAY prioritize things incorrectly (I do)

You MAY be holding yourself to too low of a standard, and need to raise the bar a little (I do)

You MAY need to make some changes, but you fear change (I do)

There may be a better way of doing things.

You may be spending your time and attention on the WRONG things.

So…I know, I know…the sheer audacity. The sheer NERVE of me, to suggest this, but….

Mama, could you be doing better?

I know I could.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Hey Mama, You Could Be Doing Better

  1. Katie August 23, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    I love all of your posts and get excited when I see a new one up on the blog! SO true!!!!

  2. Angela Smith August 24, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    Thanks for sharing! Trying to juggle it all is difficult and I commend you for recognizing where you are and taking action towards the change you desire. One place that I get a lot of advice, tools, and encouragement is The God Centered Mom Podcast. If you’ve never listened, check it out. It’s awesome! Blessings!

  3. Christine March 2, 2018 at 8:57 pm #

    I love you posts! I’ve shared every post that I have read. My children are all older now. Grown. 21,23, & 26. I never figured out how to stop the fighting. I had them write each other letters. (Once they were old enough) I made them spend the whole day together. It was normally my oldest and youngest. My middle child, bless her heart, she seemed to get pushed aside at times. Not on purpose. She was such a good child from birth, so quiet and she could get along with everyone. Now there were a few times where she and the others would fight but not much. I have told my children that are moms, they need to put their phones down and spend time with their children. By the time my baby came it wasn’t long until we purchased a PC and looking back, that was one of the hugest mistakes that I ever made. It consumed me and my time. It caused all sorts of problems. Marital problems too. Why do you think we want to spend so much time online when we have our beautiful families just wanting us there, present in their lives? That is my mom guilt. (speaking from another article you wrote). Before the PC and even a stupid Nintendo, I was an A+ mom and wife. We went to the park, I played in on the slightest and all the other toys they had. We went out all the time. I was always carrying my children somewhere. Technology can be great in moderation but some of us, (me) let it take over. I even knew it. I worked at it. It was a struggle and the best thing that happened was when my PC was hit by lightening. I’d already gotten rid of the games and Nintendo. Now I watch children running wild, parents have their faces in their phones, and I want to scream. “Do you know what you’re missing?” Now I love my phone but if my grandkids are at my house,I put it up. I spend time with them. They’re too precious and all these children want is some attention and people to speak to them. I have seen parents hush their children while they watch videos. Why can’t you watch it later? Photos, my grandkids hate to have a phone put in their face. They are 2. They get mad I’d they see you pick up your phone. They just want attention. I’ll tell you when I found it the hardest to keep my house clean. I had 3 teen girls. Lazy girls. It was a struggle to get them to load or unload the dishwasher. Or rinse the dish they used. OR bring their used dishes to the kitchen. they were luke little rats. They’d leave messes everywhere. I fell I’ll for a few years. I was still very young. The drs ran many tests. Ended up in the hospital for 2+ weeks. I couldn’t keep anything down. My potassium had nearly bottomed out and I was on the verge of a heart attack. I had congestive heart failure. After test in the hospital they realized my gallbladder was 3xs its normal size and I had one stone. One stone wouldn’t normally bother a lot of people but because of the inflamed gallbladder I was sick. That and they saw something else. They weren’t sure what it was and had lined me up to speak to a cancer dr. When they got in to do the surgery they came out and had to get more signatures because they thought they might have to open me up instead of the normal lazer surgery. Thank God they didn’t. They said my gallbladder was the size of a large grapefruit. I believe is the fruit they used. As far as the other thing they saw, they couldn’t find it. I do not know what happened. I say prayer works because I saw it, they were almost sure by my blood work I’d be continuing on to go to a cancer Dr next. Anyway, that was when my house was the hardest but also when my children picked up and started doing things more. Im sorry about the length of this. You do not have to approve it. I have loved every article that ive read if yours and they’ve made me think as well as I’ve shared them in hopes that some of these young parents will read what you are saying. Before it is too late. Children need attention, discipline, guidance, love, support, conversation, and to be taught. I look around at the children now. My heart breaks when I see a parent hush their child because something on Facebook is more “important?”. Nothing is more important than your child and what you teach them. You show then neglect by never putting down your phone, they will raise themselves. often times that ends up very bad. Not every time but a lot of the time. You’re a brilliant writer. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

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